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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
What to Make of Hong Kong’s First Protests Post-Security Law
The Hong Kong protests carried out in spite of the new national security law showcase the volatile dynamic we expect to continue as authorities work to dishearten demonstrators and the broader pro-democracy camp. Following an official rejection of an application to hold rallies citing COVID-19 and past violent activity, pro-democracy demonstrators turned out by the thousands to mark the July 1 anniversary of the British handover of the city. While authorities arrested a relatively small number of protesters under the new law, how the detentions and trials proceed will indicate the legislation’s ability to truly dissuade protests in the future. There is also the possibility that further arrests will take place based on surveillance of protest activity.
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SnapshotsJun 23, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Details of China's Hong Kong Security Law Confirm Critics' Fears
The Chinese central government is adopting a more rapid and aggressive approach to its proposed national security law in Hong Kong that will erode the city's autonomy from the mainland. On June 20, Chinese state-run media released new details about Beijing's proposed Hong Kong national security legislation following the conclusion of a National People's Congress Standing Committee session. The Standing Committee will now hold a June 28-30 special meeting, raising the possibility of the law's passage before the July 1 anniversary of the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong.  As written, the current draft law grants Beijing a greater supervisory role over national security inside of Hong Kong with measures that were on the more assertive end of the spectrum of potential options.The tough penalties for convictions will also have a chilling effect on unrest in Hong Kong by allowing pro-Beijing forces inside the city to more easily crack down on
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 19:38 GMT
Pro-democracy protesters shine the flashlights on their cellphones as they take part in a rally in Hong Kong on June 9, 2020.
Hong Kong’s Election Lights the Fuse for Another Wave of Unrest
A year after the city's extradition bill prompted more than a million people to take to the streets in June 2019, marking a watershed moment in last year's protests, Hong Kong's political crisis is heating up once again. The next three months in Hong Kong will see protests kick back into high gear as pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps focus on winning Legislative Council elections planned for September. The central government in mainland China will fast-track its controversial national security laws ahead of the polls to increase control over protestors and politicians, while the regional Hong Kong government will work to fulfill its side of the legislation. The White House, meanwhile, will pressure China to ease back on its encroachment in Hong Kong by possibly stripping away the city's special tariff treatment, but will weigh carefully whether to escalate further to financial measures that would cripple Hong Kong's status as a business hub
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AssessmentsJun 7, 2020 | 19:41 GMT
Demonstrators protest police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020, in Washington.
Unrest in the United States: Excerpts From Threat Lens
As protests around the United States have expanded and evolved over the course of the last two weeks, we have covered tactical developments for our Threat Lens clients. Though some other readers may have perceived a lack of coverage, we wish to reiterate that we are not ignoring these historic events, but rather taking the time and effort the issue deserves to evaluate the broader geopolitical impacts of the social and political movements underway in the United States. In the interim, we wish to share excerpts of previous Threat Lens coverage with our Worldview and Enterprise subscribers; additional coverage on the topic on Worldview will be forthcoming.
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AssessmentsMay 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A group of demonstrators wave the Palestinian flag on Dec. 31, 2009.
The Palestinians Move to Cut Security Ties With Israel: A Bluff or Something Bigger?
To protest Israel's aggressive annexation push, the Palestinian Authority is beginning to act on longstanding threats to cease coordination with Israeli authorities in the West Bank. On May 19, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to decades of security and intelligence cooperation with Israel and its main ally, the United States. The timing puts pressure on the Israeli government just before it's slated to begin annexing portions of the West Bank in July, and will raise the risk of violence and unrest in the area. 
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AssessmentsMay 22, 2020 | 20:20 GMT
An anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019.
Mainland China's Imposition of Security Laws In Hong Kong Will Spark Protests
The Chinese central government's decision to circumvent the Hong Kong legislature and impose long-delayed national security laws in Hong Kong will provide a major rallying point as protests rebound following COVID-19. In terms of U.S.-China relations, an uptick in demonstrations and the high-profile erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy will provide another trigger that could derail the phase one trade deal, although the White House will be careful not to subordinate its China policy to a single issue such as Hong Kong.
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GuidanceApr 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Members of Hezbollah’s medical apparatus wear full protective gear in Beirut, Lebanon, to demonstrate their readiness for the COVID-19 fight on March 31, 2020. 
Hezbollah's Soft Power Play Amid COVID-19
Hezbollah is spearheading some of Lebanon’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the central government has struggled to handle. Successful efforts to contain and manage the virus could increase the Iran-backed militant group’s popularity and political power in Lebanon, which has taken a hit in recent years. A more empowered Hezbollah, however, would draw even more ire and pressure from the United States, and could potentially raise the risk for another conflict with Israel.
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AssessmentsApr 17, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image of the Algerian flag. Plummeting oil demand and prices due to the COVID-19 crisis have sapped the Algerian government of its primary revenue source.
COVID-19 Reveals the Depth of Algeria’s Economic Woes
Algeria has relied on oil and gas revenue to fund its myriad of extensive but expensive social spending programs for decades. But the government’s primary development tool now risks collapsing under the weight of plummeting oil prices and demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the previous oil and gas price slump in 2014, when export revenues were halved, Algeria’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped from $194 billion to just $62 billion in February of this year. The reserves are likely to continue draining fast as the pandemic continues to rattle global markets and suppress global demand for oil and gas.  Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Algeria’s wealth heavily depends on oil and gas revenue, which accounts for 60 percent of its state budget and nearly all (94 percent) of the country’s export revenue. By highlighting its severe vulnerability to global market
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AssessmentsApr 8, 2020 | 18:16 GMT
A 3D rendering of the novel coronavirus floating in a cellular environment.
COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Back to Work
To help clients sift through the growing sea of COVID-19 information, RANE pulsed its network of experts to level set what should be top of mind for businesses and individuals as the pandemic unfolds. Stratfor’s geopolitical content and analysis will soon be available through RANE’s platform, where members receive exclusive access to a global marketplace of credentialed risk experts and service providers, proprietary community-driven risk intelligence, and a range of support services and risk management programs. For more information about RANE and Stratfor, visit https://go.ranenetwork.com/stratfor/rane.  This FAQ covers the following questions: What do we now know about this illness and who gets it? How can individuals best protect themselves? Do I need to worry about people getting infected by the virus living on things they touch? What do we do if someone shows symptoms while in the workplace? What can I do to mitigate the risk of being shut down by health authorities? How does this end?
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AssessmentsApr 6, 2020 | 19:35 GMT
An image of cracked, painted picture of the U.S. and Iraqi flags illustrates the two countries' decaying relationship due to Washington's ongoing pressure campaign and proxy battle against Iran.  
The U.S. Strategy in Iraq Could Come Back to Bite
Iraq has become a hot theater for escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, with Iran-backed Iraqi militias attempting to force U.S. military forces out of the country via ongoing attacks. The United States has responded by repositioning its troops instead of withdrawing them, highlighting its continued priority of ensuring Iraqi stability. But against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, Washington’s intensified pressure campaign against Iran’s regional proxies and economic ties risk backfiring by throwing Iraq deeper into chaos.
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GuidanceApr 3, 2020 | 19:35 GMT
An impage shows the Russian, Saudi Arabian and U.S. flags from left to right.
OPEC+ Will Try, and Likely Fail, to Renegotiate a Production Cut
An April 2 phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prompted Riyadh to call for an emergency meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers (also known as OPEC+) on April 6. The meeting, however, is still unlikely to yield an agreement that would push Brent crude prices back above $30 per barrel sustainably. Given the massive demand drop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that global oil production will eventually have to decline. Otherwise, global storage capacity will be exhausted in less than two months. The question is whether a very broad number of producer-country governments can agree on coordinated production restraint, or whether that happens as a result of individual companies’ response to price signals. Though in the near term, the latter remains more probable.
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AssessmentsMar 27, 2020 | 20:09 GMT
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) wears a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 during a March 26, 2020, meeting in Beirut to evaluate measures taken against the virus' spread.
COVID-19 Temporarily Tamps Down Unrest in the Middle East
Protest movements across the Middle East and North Africa, from Algeria to Lebanon and Iraq, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of the virus' spread has deterred these movements from organizing in the streets more than the intermittent threat of crackdowns by security forces even though these were especially violent in Iraq. The underlying factors driving these movements remained largely unresolved, however, and the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will leave these countries with even fewer tools to appease protesters once the disease dissipates. So while the COVID-19 pandemic will depress anti-government demonstrations and activism in the near term, its inevitably negative economic impacts will spark more unrest later in the year in protest hotspots once the greatest danger of COVID-19 has passed.
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